Don’t get me wrong, Facebook is a powerful tool and you should be using it to promote your business. In fact, Facebook is ideal for:
Building an audience
Sharing content and
Giving day-to-day updates
But it only goes so far. Social media is just that – social. It's for chatting with clients and sharing a single thought or photo at a time. Not for running your whole business.
You need a dedicated web presence to present yourself as a professional who cares about your business. And there are so many ways your website represents you better.
Here are just a few to think about.
When I see a photographer who just has a Facebook page, I just have to stop them and say, “A Facebook page is not a website!” – Sarah Petty
Reaching the Largest Network Possible
Facebook isn’t going to reach your entire market.
Not everyone has a Facebook page. Even those who do may not want to navigate your page just to figure out if you offer the service they need.
And if you have something really important to tell your customers about – like a sale or new product – there's no guarantee they'll see it. New content pushes down old posts. Things get lost in the shuffle. Unless customers check your Facebook regularly, many important messages will go unheard.
So how does a website do it better?
A website is permanent. Nothing is going to just change on your website so dog pictures show up before your Super Important Sale.
You reach a wider audience. Because your website is indexed in Google and Bing, you can promote your business to so many more potential customers. You're not just reaching Facebook's audience, you're reaching the entire world via search.
Your website has a larger footprint on the web. That's because you're not just limited to a single Facebook page. Your website can include dozens of pages, each with the potential to show up in search results. So when a customer searches "Jacksonville Photographers," your beefed-up site will win over Facebook pages every time.
Building Your Brand
A beautiful website can solidify your brand, embody your style and showcase your work like no Facebook page ever could.
You have almost no control over the way your Facebook page looks and behaves. You're locked into Facebook's design and layout with little room for personalization.
Your website allows you the freedom to design a space that puts your best foot forward and caters directly to your clients.
Flexible Form and Function
Facebook’s functionality is limited, rigid and changes without warning. You may spend hours building your Facebook page, only to have them launch an update that wipes out your hard work.
Your own website is flexible and customizable. You're not beholden to the whims of an external platform.
Plus, your own website offers tools your Facebook page never will. Giving you the ability to collect and save detailed contact info or display and sell products or services right on your site.
Tracking Your Visits
Facebook provides limited information about who visits your page and what they interact with. When you install (free!) Google Analytics on your website, you can track detailed information about your traffic and performance. Leagues beyond what Facebook offers.
This will help you learn what areas of your business get the most attention and where you need to focus more of your energy.
Your website is your domain name. It’s on your business cards and on all your marketing materials. If you are directing visitors to only a Facebook link, it lets them know a few things about you – and none of them good.
At best, you can come off as someone who is not established in your field. That you're a beginner who hasn't had time to build a proper website yet.
At worst, you can appear like someone who is not committed to your craft. That you're lazy or cheap, and don't care enough (or can't afford) to build a website.
A real business domain gives customers confidence in your business.
It says that you care about your business and you're successful at what you do. That you're willing to invest time, energy and at least a little money representing yourself online.
But most importantly, a professional website gives buyers confidence that the products and services you deliver will be of equally high quality.
In summary, your Facebook page is important for promoting yourself. But your website should be the door through which all business is funneled.
Every post on social media and all offline marketing should point back to your website. The more traffic you can drive to your site, the better it will perform in search. And every page on your site should provide road map to "Contact Me" or "Buy Now."
Because no matter how many likes you have on Facebook, nothing is better at converting visitors into clients than a professional website on your own domain.
Get a website. Make it beautiful. Then go do what you do: Run your business. – Sarah Petty